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7 Podcasts That Should Be Made Into Series After Archive 81

Did you love Archive 81? Want more? Here are 7 other horror and science fiction podcasts that deserve to be turned into series right now.

Netflix’s Archive 81, starring Mamoudou Athie and Dina Shihabi, based on the popular podcast of the same name, is a good indication of the future of storytelling. The kind of stories that compel an audience to tune in and keep watching or listening aren’t just coming from visual media anymore. Anyone with a Spotify or Apple account knows there are plenty of great stories being told on podcasts. Similar to how Netflix changed the game with their time-consuming content that invented the phrases binge-watch, bingeing, binge-able, and binge-worthy, podcasts are forging new experimental ground.

Some of the best yarns are being woven in the experimental space between magical realism, Lovecraftian existential dread, and found footage viral marketing. Archive 81 borrowed from some of the best with its nods to Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, and V/H/S but put a whole new spin on the food footage subgenre. Demon cults, shady businessmen, and interdimensional gods were used unexpectedly. So if you loved Archive 81 and are looking for your next great listen to get the small screen treatment, here are 7 of the best podcasts that should be turned into a series right now.

Welcome To Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale sounds like the weirdest public broadcast station ever. Strange mixes of odd town sightings mix with seemingly ordinary town announcements. The genius of Night Vale is most of what you hear is delivered in such a normal mundane way. That is until you really listen to what is happening. There is nothing normal about Night Vale, and it is easily the best example of existential dread on any entertainment platform today. The twice-monthly podcast has 200 episodes and counting and is like nothing else you have ever heard. Here’s an example of one of the unsettling oddities the tiny desert town offers.

Listeners: Meagan Wallaby is missing. She was last seen on Saturday night, attending a party in the desert near Drainage Ditch Road. All Night Vale residents are urged to be on the lookout. Megan is a medium-sized man’s hand covered in thick dark hairs. She wears a wristwatch and a pinky ring inscribed with Cyrillic, and is surgically attached to the body of a 6’10 bald Russian man.

Welcome To Night Vale

The bizarre mashup of In The Mouth of Madness, Twin Peaks, and The Truman Show might be the hardest to conceptualize, but it could be the most rewarding. The immersive and expansive universe has many offshoots, including a new haunted house live series and a rival town series, so there is plenty of material to pull from. You can get tickets or listen to the podcast here in preparation. This series begs to be produced by Jordan Peele or David Lynch.

The Magnus Archives

This massive podcast series is the most like Archive 81, so a ready-built audience already exists. The weekly podcast written and performed by Jonathan Sims has been going strong since 2016. The story is like Syfy’s Warehouse 13, only infinitely creepier. It works as both an object of the moment thriller combined with a big picture puzzler that sucks you right in and keeps you in a suspended state of WTF. Many of the things researched and archived by Sims and his small team of dedicated archivists is real urban legends and things from history, lending a disturbing bit of realism to the series that could easily send anyone down a deep and dark rabbit hole.

It is ready-made for Reddit and, as such, would make for the gift that keeps on giving. Genre entertainment that makes you think and talk theories endlessly drives views. Showtime’s Yellowjackets has kept us all buzzing(pun intended) with questions about who’s behind the mask and who made it out alive. The Magnus Archives could do a similar thing for those who love horror and history in equal measures. Listen here.

Video Palace

The podcast from Shudder combines found footage, nostalgia, and sleep disorders in an intoxicating cocktail of dread, fear, and mystery. Michael Cambria is an avid video enthusiast whose lastest acquisition causes him to speak in tongues while he’s sleeping. His quest to find out who made the tape and why it affects him sends him to some dark places. Video Palace comes from The Blair Witch producer Michael Monello and will remind you a little of Ringu or Pontypool, which is high praise, in my opinion.

In addition, there is a spin-off book Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man: Collected Stories which could provide even more material for the stand-alone original story. The story’s viral concept and eerie nostalgic styling should make an easy binge-able adaptation, and the writers know how to produce a gripping tale. Utilizing a talented but little-known cast should help elevate Video Palace from found footage shlock to a heady psychological thriller. You can listen here.

The Left Right Game

A young, ambitious journalist wants to make a name for herself by following a group of paranormal investigators who claim to have discovered a phenomenon by following a strict set of driving rules. The name is goofy, and the premise sounds hokey, but this series packs a wallop. This is my favorite podcast on the list because months later, I can’t shake the feeling that it was somehow real. I find myself thinking about whether or not I should try the game myself.

The Lovecraftian story written by Jack Anderson leans heavily into existential dread making it spine-tingling and hair raising. The podcast has a definite end, but listeners can attest that the circular nature of the story means it could be expanded into multiple seasons with minimal effort. Best yet, Amazon Studios bought the right in 2020 to turn it into a series for their streaming platform. It hasn’t happened yet, but after Archive 81’s success, this project should get greenlit ASAP. Of course, original star Tessa Thompson must be attached! You can listen to every harrowing episode here.

Alice Isn’t Dead

This podcast from Welcome To Night Vale creators is ready-made for streaming. The tiny, tight cast and claustrophobic set pieces that could be created would be anxiety-inducing. A female long-haul trucker fills her hours on the road with what starts as a stream of consciousness audio diary about her lost love Alice and the mistakes she regrets. Little by little supernatural scares begin creeping in. Forgotten towns, monsters, and a horrifying conspiracy give a lot to chew on.

The pacing is so perfectly curated every second, your heart beats faster as the tension builds. The story could easily be plucked directly from the podcast script and given to a subtle talent like The Sinner’s Carrie Coons. This engrossing podcast could be the next breakout hit if done right. Find the podcast here.

Old Gods Of Appalachia

This is the only anthology series on the list, but the stories could easily be woven into a cohesive story in the right hands. All of the episodes feature a different story all set in the country’s oldest mountain range, the Appalachians. They are all interconnected by the idea that an ancient being imprisoned within the mountain was left there to protect us. Humankind’s perchance for sin has thinned the veil between worlds until some of the dark evil gets unleashed.

All of the stories feel like they could be cousins of classic horror like Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft, and they are all excellent examples of oral history folklore. Most of the tales have a homespun quality which sounds like something you expect to hear from your Great Grandma while snapping green beans on the front porch. Many of them have a factual basis which is very fun to research, and the historical aspects that are reimagined are some of the most inventful around. You can listen to the podcast here.

Unwell, A Midwestern Gothic Mystery

This midwestern-based podcast features Lillian Harper, who has moved to the ominously named Mt. Absalom, Ohio, to care for her injured, estranged mother. She has moved back into the boarding house her family has run for decades. Shortly after moving in, she realizes there are more than just unusual guests to discover. Part ghost story, and decades-spanning mystery, this is gothic horror done right.

There are four seasons and counting, so there is no shortage of fruitful space for the series to go, and the setting is uniquely small town and Middle America. The town begs to be brought to life, and the boarding home itself is ripe with possibilities. Fans of Netflix’s No One Gets Out Alive, and the stinging feminine pain of Sharp Objects will love this series, which I could easily see starring Elle Fanning or Cloe Grace Moretz. You can find all episodes here.